Toy advert brings Huntington’s research and DNA/RNA science to life

The BRC has today launched an animated film explaining Huntington’s disease and efforts to correct the impact of the faulty gene that causes it. 

The film created by science broadcaster Greg Foot (sciencemedia) and Pierangelo Pirak (Pomona Pictures) who produced the highly successful ‘How to biohack your cells to fight cancer’ video is part a series of films by the BRC aimed at explaining the science behind research in exciting, fun and stimulating ways. 

Mimicking an 80s style toy advert, the film explains how researchers are looking to suppress the harmful huntingtin protein which causes Huntington’s. By explaining the way in which this is done - by inhibiting the huntingtin messenger RNA involved in the production of the Huntingtin mutant protein - the film is a stimulating explanation of DNA, RNA and proteins and transcription. 

The research featured is that of work by Professor Sarah Tabrizi and Dr Ed Wild, both consultants at UCLH, who are currently trialling use of an antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) discovered and developed by Ionis Pharmaceuticals. Early trials have shown that ASO successfully inhibited the huntingtin messenger RNA and reduced levels of the toxic protein mHTT. 

The trial is moving on to a global phase III study and researchers hope results will have relevance for all neurodegenerative such as disease Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Motor Neurone Disease. 

Professor Sarah Tabrizi said: “This film is so important in communicating basic science research to the wider public, it has been very rewarding working with Greg and the BRC on this and I think the end result is exciting and fun!” 

Dr Ed Wild said: “I screened the film for the first time during a research keynote address to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America Annual Convention in early June and the response was incredible. The film explains some quite advanced concepts in a way that is accessible and fun, especially to anyone with fond childhood memories of intense toy commercials. The whole audience of over 500 non-scientists really loved the film and can’t wait to share it with their friends and families.” 

Huntington’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease caused by a mutation to the huntingtin gene (HTT) resulting in the production of a toxic mutant protein (mHTT). 

‘NanoMachines’ was produced by specialist consultancy & digital-first production studio in partnership with the National Institute for Health Research University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre and directed & animated by Pierangelo Pirak of Pomona Pictures. 


Click here to watch the video